Electronic cigarette with a description of the battery, atomiser and cartridge.

What is the e-cigarette?
Electronic cigarettes, e-cigs or electric cigarettes, as they are also known, are not sold as a tool for giving up smoking although many users do treat them as such.

The electronic cigarette is essentially a device that simulates the smoking process, and is promoted to be used in situations where smoking is not allowed.

The e-cigarette was invented by a Chinese medicine practitioner in 2003 and was introduced to the American market a year later and to the European market in 2006.

Over the years there has been a certain amount of controversy surrounding the e-cigarette as to how it should be promoted and marketed and whether it should be sold legally.
At present, each country in the European Union has its own stance regarding the electronic cigarette and there does not seem to be a clear and unified view as yet.

A healthier alternative to smoking

The electronic cigarette is marketed as a healthier option to smoking regular tobacco-burning cigarettes due to the fact that the user carries out all of the actions associated with smoking yet does not inhale any of the harmful chemicals or toxins such as tar or carbon monoxide that are found in traditional cigarettes.

However, many bodies state that not enough research has been carried out into the long-term effects of inhaling nicotine vapour or the general safety of the e-cigarette, and state that all packs containing the electronic cigarette with its various attachments should come with a health warning. Many of these bodies call for the withdrawal of the e-cigarette from our markets until further studies and research has been done.

What does the electronic cigarette comprise of?

The electronic cigarette is typically made up of three main components, being the battery, the atomiser and the cartridge.

The electronic cigarette battery

The battery comprises the largest part of the e-cigarette and usually comes complete with a LED tip that lights up when the cigarette is being used, also mimicking the inhalation of a real cigarette.

Most electronic cigarette batteries are made from lithium and can be recharged when the power runs out. As the user inhales on the e-cigarette, the battery sends out a signal to the atomiser, which then allows a water vapour to be released, which is ultimately inhaled by the user.

The battery generally lasts for approximately two days but this will depend on how often the e-cigarette is used, as well as the type and size of the battery.

When the battery needs recharging, it is removed from the device, usually by unscrewing it, and attached to a battery charger, which can then be plugged into a wall socket, into a car cigarette lighter or into a USB port.

The electronic cigarette atomiser

The atomiser sits in the middle of the electronic cigarette, in between the battery and the cartridge. Its main function is to vaporise the e-liquid that is contained within the cartridge, which takes place as a coil contained within the atomiser is heated on receiving a signal from the battery upon inhalation of the device. The atomiser is also a replaceable part and should be changed every six months or so.

The electronic cigarette cartridge

The cartridge is the smallest part of the electronic cigarette and sits at the opposing end to the LED tip. The cartridge is also known as the mouthpiece and it is through here that the user sucks on the device in order to receive an intake of nicotine vapour. This part of the electronic cigarette is disposable and is generally changed every two days.

Inside the cartridge is a smaller piece that holds a small quantity of absorbent material. This material is saturated with liquid nicotine that has been dissolved in either propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin. Sometimes flavourings such as mint, vanilla, coffee or fruit are also added.

The amount of nicotine varies in strength so that users can decide how much nicotine they actually require. Strengths range between zero nicotine, low, medium, high and extra high.

Reasons to choose the e-cigarette

The e-cigarette is popular with many users due to a number of reasons:
  • It looks and feels the same as a regular cigarette
  • It does not contain any of the 4,000 harmful substances a regular cigarette does
  • It does not contain tar
  • There are no disgusting odours
  • A lot of money can be saved by not buying as many regular cigarettes
  • You may feel the health benefits of smoking less regular cigarettes
  • There are no second-hand smoke risks
  • There is no fire risk
  • There are no lingering smells inside your home or car
  • It is a socially acceptable way of smoking
  • Smoking can be carried out in place where the smoking ban has been enforced

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